1983 Toyota Camry sedan

“Introducing the family Camry”

The Toyota Camry debuted in the middle of the 1983 model year, in four-door sedan and five-door hatchback models. Instead of being designed to compete with European manufacturers, the Camry was designed to compete with American cars—in fact, Car and Driver famously wrote that “the Camry drives as if Buick engineers had moonlighted on its development.” The Camry’s measurements ended up splitting the difference in size between the GM J-body (Buick Skyhawk, Cadillac Cimarron, Chevrolet Cavalier, Oldsmobile Firenza, and Pontiac 2000) and the GM X-body (Buick Skylark, Chevrolet Citation, Oldsmobile Omega, and Pontiac Phoenix).

Power for the first-year Camry was provided by a 92 bhp 2.0 liter/122 ci inline four with fuel injection, which was available with either a standard five-speed manual or an optional four-speed automatic. With the manual, 0-60 mph came in a little under 13 seconds in the 2,236-pound car. Mileage was good—32 city/44 highway by the standards of the day (25/31 by modern standards). With a 14.5-gallon gas tank, a Camry owner could expect a 365 to 495 mile range with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard equipment on the $7,988 (about $20,000 in today’s dollars—a 2018 Camry starts at $23,500) DLX sedan included front wheel drive, a four-wheel independent suspension, and 185/70R13 tires (a size still available from Kumho and Vredestein) on 13-inch wheels. Upgrading to the $9,698 LE made the four-speed automatic standard and added variable-effort power steering, rear window defogger, dual remote side mirrors, full instrumentation, reclining cloth bucket seats, and an AM/FM stereo radio with five speakers.

Individual options were relatively few and included air conditioning, sunroof, and a cruise control/power locks/power windows package.

The first-generation Camry was well received and got good reviews—the tagline in Car and Driver‘s test was “At home in America.” 52,651 were sold in that first model year, with sales increasing steadily throughout the decade.

Unlike other Toyotas that are deemed more collectible from the eighties (Land Cruisers, pickup trucks, Celicas, Supras, MR2s), first-generation Camrys rarely come up for sale for sale in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors.

1985 Toyota MR2 coupe

One of my favorite high-school teachers had an MR2 in red—she caused somewhat of a stir when she showed up in it the first time.

“Fun is taking the all-new MR2 out to play.”

The MR2 was undoubtedly one of the most interesting cars Toyota brought to market in the 1980s (development had begun in 1976). Visually evolved from the SV-3 concept car shown at the 1983 Tokyo Motor Show, MR2 stood for “midship runabout 2-seater”.

A small sports car (almost six inches shorter than a 2015 Honda Fit) with an angular wedge body, the MR2 became available for the 1985 model year, entering a market that already included the Bertone (formally Fiat) X1/9 and the Pontiac Fiero. MR2s got really good reviews from the likes of Motor Trend (winning “Import Car of the Year”), Road & Track, and, later, Automobile—who famously compared it to a Ferrari 308 and found the MR2 to be the winner.

The MR2’s engine was the 16-valve 1.6 liter 4A-GE fuel injected double overhead cam inline four, with 112 bhp. Paired with the standard five-speed manual transmission (a four-speed automatic transmission was optional) in the 2,350 pound “Mister Two,” this engine was good for 0-60 in under 9 seconds and a top speed of about 120 mph. Mileage was very good: 27 city/32 highway by the standards of the day (23/29 by modern standards). With a 10.8-gallon fuel tank, an MR2 owner could expect a range of 250 to 285 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard equipment in the $10,999 car (about $24,300 in 2014 dollars) included power disc brakes and 14-inch alloy wheels on 185/60R14 tires. Inside, automatic climate control, power side mirrors, tinted glass, a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel, and an AM/FM stereo radio were included in an interior that was considered roomy for the MR2’s size.

Options available for the 1985 MR2 included air conditioning ($840), a moonroof ($300), cruise control ($185), power windows and locks ($305), and an AM/FM stereo radio with cassette ($365).

MR2s do have club support, including a fairly active forum. Though there are slim pickings in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds, first-generation MR2s (sold up until the 1989 model year) show up fairly often on eBay Motors. As I write this in July 2014, there’s a blue 1985 with 92,000 miles with a $3,333 “Buy It Now” price.

Make mine the same red as that high school teacher owned, please.

1982 Toyota Celica Supra

This was one of my first posts in this blog. I’ve updated it to reflect both changes in my posting style and substantial improvements in available data.

“The ultimate performance Toyota.”

Remember when Toyota made a reasonable amount of cool sporty cars?

I do.

I believe they really nailed it with the Mark II Celica Supra. First, the styling: though based on the Celica, the longer hood (to accommodate the Supra’s inline six) substantially changed the look of the car.

There wasn’t just the styling, though—Supras included all kinds of other upgrades, including pop-up headlights (you’ll have to believe me that they were very cool in the 1980s) and a notably higher level of interior equipment.

1982 Toyota Celica Supra, the 1982 Motor Trend Import Car Of The Year.
1982 Toyota Celica Supra, picture courtesy of Motor Trend from their Import Car Of The Year photo shoot.

The engine was Toyota’s 145 bhp 5M-GE 2.8 liter/168 ci dual overhead cam fuel injected inline six, giving a 0-60 time of about 9 seconds (spritely for 1982) and a top speed of approximately 125 mph. Over the next few years, engine power would climb to 161 bhp.

Mileage with the standard five-speed manual transmission was 21 city/34 highway by the standards of the day (19/31 by today’s standards). Choosing the four-speed automatic transmission reduced highway mileage to 32 highway.

Two models of the Celica Supra were available: the L– (for “Luxury”) Type and the P– (for “Performance”) Type. The $13,598 L-Type (about $33,500 in 2014 dollars) included standard power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, and a tilt steering wheel. Moving up to the $14,598 P-Type (about $36,000 in today’s dollars) added fender flares, a limited slip differential, seven-inch-wide aluminum wheels, and eight-way adjustable sport seats.

Here’s a classic commercial, with legendary (and very tall) race car driver Dan Gurney shilling for the brand new Supra.

According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1982 Toyota Celica Supra in #1 condition is $15,100. A more “normal” #3 condition example is valued at $6,500.

1981 Toyota Celica Sport Coupe

We do requests on Eighties Cars, whether or not they are definitive ones. A friend of mine mentioned his 1981 Celica in one of the forums I frequent, and that was enough inspiration for me.

 “The Ultimate Toyota.”

1981 was the final year for the second-generation Toyota Celica which had debuted in 1978. Despite this, there were some significant changes, including a new engine.

celicas
1981 Celica and Celica Supra poster, courtesy of Flickr user Alden Jewell.

The Celica’s new engine for 1981 was the 22R 97 bhp 2.4 liter/144 ci inline four with a two-barrel carburetor. Paired with a five-speed manual transmission, fuel economy was an impressive 25 city/37 highway by the standards of the day (22/34 by today’s standards). Choosing the optional four-speed automatic transmission dropped economy slightly to 25 city/35 highway (22/32 by 2014 standards).

The Celica Sport Coupe was available in ST and GT trim levels. Standard equipment on the Celica ST ($6,699 or about $17,500 in today’s dollars) included electronic ignition, an FM radio, reclining front bucket seats, “cut pile wall-to-wall carpeting,” power front disc brakes and rear drum brakes, and styled steel wheels with 185/70R14 tires (a size still readily available).

Moving up to the GT ($7,429 or about $19,400 in 2014 dollars) added features such as tungsten halogen high beams, dual outside mirrors, a dressed up instrument panel and console, and a locking gas cap.

Optional equipment included air conditioning, sunroof, and power steering. Aluminum alloy wheels, rear window defogger, and cruise control were GT only options.